The Release of the Branchflower Report.

10 10 2008

It was a long long day in the halls of the Legislature.  What many thought would be a couple hours of waiting turned into an eight hour day.  The hallway outside the conference room was jammed with media, ABC, BBC, CNN, NPR, the whole alphabet soup.  There were bloggers and journalists, camera crews and members of the legislature, Palin folks and Alaskans for Truth – all staring at the clock, and each other,  and waiting for any crumb of news.

Outside the building, standing in the rain, were about 40 Palin supporters with signs saying, “We love our Gov.” and “We are proud of you.”

Every once in a while a legislator would pop out of the room and say, “It’ll be another hour or so,” and back they would go.  Eyeballs pressed against the venetian blinds could see through the little string holes that Stephen Branchflower was talking, going through the report page by page.

There were Hollis French sightings, and Bill Weilechowski sightings.  Les Gara was there, as was Fred Dyson (one of the ‘gang of six’ who filed the lawsuit to stop the subpoenas).  Palin’s spokesman Bill McAllister paced the halls.  Shannyn Moore and Eddie Burke exchanged a brief hello.  It was like a big melting pot of the Alaska political and media world in one little hallway…..all.  day.  long.

The Palin supporters headed over for coffee at a local coffee shop, and after the coffee was made, they found out it was a “liberal” coffee shop and took off without paying, leaving the coffee behind.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the doors opened and the 50+ members of the media flooded in to the room.

A roll call revealed that 12 of the 14 members of the Legislative Council were present.  The two missing members were Rep. Samuels, and Rep. Wilken (known to Mudflatters as Rep. “I don’t care what the rest of the country thinks. Move to Alaska and then you can lobby me.”)

Senator Lyda Green made the motion to release the public parts of the report to anyone who asked, and to not release the confidential portion of the report.  Rep. Stoltze objected for purpose of discussion.

Discussion followed:

Stevens:  The Legislative Council originally voted unanimously, and laid out the rules of the investigation.  It was designed to be non-political.  He’s sorry it was “taken into the political realm”.  Feels it would be a mistake to just read the findings and not the rest of the report.  Urges caution, and thinks the report should be read “with a jaundiced eye.”

Stoltze:  He had some differences with the report, but thought the process was thorough.  Felt the release of the report was a “no brainer.”  It utilized public funds, and is a public document.  He said he had received hundreds of emails from all over the country urging him to vote to release the report, and was hoping if the report was released he’d be able to get through his inbox again.

Wilson:  Felt the report was well done.  There is some speculation in it and she doesn’t agree with everything, but feels Branchflower did a good job.  The full report is more than 1000 pages.  The public will not have all the information.

Coghill:  He was pleased with the professionalism displayed by Branchflower.  He feels the politicizing has “settled down a bit” and didn’t feel it had an affect on Branchflower’s findings.

Guttenberg:  Thanked Hollis French, and Stephen Branchflower.  Says to remember that the report is about “a family”.  Feels that the legislature has done a good job and has served the public well.

Cowdery:  He “can’t fault the Palins for trying to defend their family,”  but will vote to release the report.

Elton:  Thanked everyone for staying up late, going through the 1300 pages of the report.  This was not an easy job.  Thanked French and his staff.  Thanked his own staff.  Thanked Judge Michalski and the Alaska Supreme Court.

By this time it had become pretty apparent that the vote would pass, and sure enough as the list was read, we realized the ruling was unanimous.  I have to say I wasn’t expecting that.

And now I’d like to thank all of you who spent time writing to the Legislative Council with your concerns about releasing the report, and passing the information to others.  I have no doubt that this was a contributing factor.  When Stoltze talked about all the emails he received, you could see the knowing looks on the faces of all those who were there.  They knew they had an important decision to make, and they knew that people across the world were watching.

After the vote, there was a mad scramble by the press to grab their homework for the weekend – a big fat 263 page green-covered, spiral-bound report entitled:  Report of the Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Termination of Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Potential Abuses of Power and/or Improper Actions by Members of Governor Sarah Palin’s Administration.  Volume I – Public Report.

And you yourself may have your very own copy (minus the spiral binding and the green cover)

Just put on some comfy sweats, grab your favorite evening-time beverage, and click HERE

It isn’t often that good people resist political pressure and do the right thing.  I’ve seen things like this go the wrong way, time and time again.  Today renewed my faith in the political process.  I think I’m going to send out one more set of 12 emails saying, “Thank you.”